Carrier or Sling?by Dianna Graveman
Many parents choose strollers for transporting their toddlers about town, but you may have also considered acquiring a baby carrier or sling for shorter trips or for around the home or office. Carriers and slings allow you to keep your baby close, while still having free use of your hands to shop, care for the minor needs of other children, perform office work, or attend to chores. Some experts and health care professionals believe that babies who are carried are less likely to be irritable or fussy.
A basic sling is just that -- a strong swath of cloth that is worn across the front of your baby and over your shoulder, allowing your baby to rest close. Some are padded, and some have rings that make them adjustable.
A carrier usually has two shoulder straps and a cloth seat, also allowing your baby to rest close, either facing you or facing front.
There are, of course, variations of these two basic models, including the Baby K'tan Carrier, which is advertised as a cross between a sling and carrier with the benefits of both.
Here are some pros and cons to slings and carriers that you may wish to consider:
- A baby sling is probably going to cost you less than a carrier -- as much as 50 to 0 less.
- A sling makes breastfeeding a little easier than a carrier. The fit and position are usually less restricting, and the fabric and construction of a sling makes it possible to be discreet while nursing your little one.
- Your pediatrician may suggest you not use a sling if your baby is less than four months old or is very small, if she was premature, or if she has a cold or any kind of respiratory condition.
- Some experts believe some types of slings are unsafe and can cause suffocation hazards if the baby's face ends up pressed against your body while you are carrying him in the sling. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov/) warns parents and caregivers to "be cautious when carrying babies younger than 4 months of age in a sling and to make sure that your infant's face is visible at all times when using these products."
- Slings can cause discomfort or shoulder strain if you carry your baby often and she weighs more than ten pounds.
- The design and material of some carrier models, depending on price, can be comfortable enough for you to easily wear and carry your child for longer hours throughout the day without getting shoulder strain, since the weight is equally distributed across both of your shoulders.
- For the fashion-conscious parent, more expensive carriers are often made of finer fabrics and other materials.
- Some carriers have a sleeping hood or headrest for your baby.
- The carrier can continue to be used when your child gets older and wants to sit up and look at the world. The structure of a carrier will support larger babies and sometimes even toddlers up to forty pounds, depending on the model and brand. The newest carriers are designed to distribute the weight to your hips rather than your shoulders.
- Front carriers will allow your baby to face outward to see what's going on, and some can also be worn on the back for the parents' greater comfort as the baby gets bigger.
- As stated above, a front baby carrier is going to be more costly than a sling.
- A front carrier will not allow for discreet breastfeeding, as a sling will. Also, a carrier will not cradle your newborn in the same fashion as a sling and may feel cumbersome when your baby is very tiny.
Whether to use a baby carrier or sling is a personal decision, one you should discuss with your spouse or partner and your pediatrician. Whichever you choose, carefully consider all safety recommendations.
You can read more and find out about recent safety alerts and recalls for carriers at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website: http://search.cpsc.gov/query.html?qt=baby+carriers&charset=iso-8859-1.
Alerts, warnings, and recalls for slings can be also be found at the site: http://search.cpsc.gov/query.html?qt=baby+slings&charset=iso-8859-1&col=intl&col=pubweb&col=atvgov.
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